We're always pleased to welcome a new cohort of students into the program, and this year a few of the faces arrive with brand new books in tow. Danila Botha's For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known (stories; Tightrope Books), and Owain Nicholson's Dig Site (poetry; Nightwood Editions), are on our must-read list for this fall. We asked them to share a few of their own current favourites:
I’m currently reading Cordelia Strube’s latest novel, On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light. She’s such a master of the singular, idiosyncratic first person voice, and she packs so much social observation and insight into every sentence. Harriet grabbed me by the heart from the first sentence, much like her character Lemon did, in Strube's novel of the same name from 2005.
I’m also devouring Shelly Oria’s fantastic collection of short stories, New York 1, Tel Aviv 0. Her characterization is so sharp, and her voice and style are vibrant and unique. “It is April and Manhattan and this is what I keep thinking about the air. It is crisp…I fantasize about taking a big bite and chewing the air, making obscenely loud noises, as if the air on this island were a gum, or worse, sunflower seeds.” I love how much she plays with the form.
I also just started reading Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit. Her short stories are the perfect mix of grit and beauty, vulnerability and strength. “I got that good feeling in my gut, that nudge of magic and possibility in my throat, the sweep of hopeful feathers in my soul. I wanted to drop to my knees right then… shoving slippery handfuls into my windbreaker pockets. But my time was done.”
I can’t stop re-reading Vivek Shraya’s even this page is white. She addresses issues of race, sexuality, identity and more in this beautifully written, bold and sensitive collection. "Birth Certificate says M" makes me cry, and "A Dog Named Lavender" ends with the lines: “what would I be if I wasn’t thinking about this/who could I be if I wasn’t thinking about this?” which I find myself thinking of as I write my new novel.
Danila Botha’s new collection of short stories, For All The Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known was published on Oct 1 by Tightrope Books.
I'm reading a number of titles, actually. I'm reading Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and I just finished his book The Remains of the Day. I have some difficulty reading first person, but I'm also trying to push my reading out of my normal space. It's been a fun challenge, approaching different stories. The Fall of Light and Dancer's Lament are two novels I recently finished. And, of course, there are all the essays and stories I'm reading for class, which is a whole other list!
The mythic 'Fall' instead of autumn seems to be a trait just now.
I'm also moving through a few of Doretta Lau's short stories again from her awesome first collection, How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun (also a fellow Nightwood author), as well as Garcia Marquez's collected short stories. I'm usually in a novel or in poems, but I want to give Marquez another chance. I came to his work at a time when I didn't have the tools to give him a proper read and I don't want to miss out on something fabulous.
For poetry, I'm assaulting the last lines of Milton's Paradise Lost, of course, about the Fall of Satan and the Fall of Man. It's phenomenal. But by last lines, I think I'm looking at another six or seven hundred! I have Carol Ann Duffy's Rapture on the go, which is love poems. She simply eschews what we thought we knew and comes at it new. I picked up a couple books, just last week in Montreal, that I want to sink my teeth into: Joe Denham's Windstorm, and Sandra Ridley's Silvija. Both brilliant Canadian poets.
Owain Nicholson's first book of poetry, Digsite, is now available from Nightwood Editions. Type Books will host the Toronto launch on October 18, beginning at 7pm.